Angel Di Maria had his hands on his head. He had just fizzed the ball just inches shy of Szczesny’s goal. His mouth gaped in agony of being so close to putting United one goal up over Arsenal, adding to his beautiful assist earlier when he delivered a precision cross to the eagerly awaiting head of his captain Rooney. Di Maria was on course to exorcize his demons, and get the proverbial ‘monkey of his back’. His attempt was from a more familiar left side of the pitch, he had since abandoned the right side of the pitch where he has been forced to play by Van Gaal in yet another attempt to re-tool the Argentine.
Instead the Old Trafford darkened, as outcast Danny Welbeck moved the ball past the excellent David De Gea and squared off a shot into a virtually empty United net, a gift from Valencia who put in a very torrid shift on one of the most important nights of United’s season. The unguarded celebration from the young mancunian was expected, especially after he was unceremoniously dismissed by LVG as not being good enough for United in light of his Colombian import on loan from Monaco. Ironically, Falcao sat sunken on the bench, without the risk of ever being called up to help salvage the situation.
Di Maria still tried to force the issue to rescue something from the game, he meandered and skipped through tackles with intent, before disappointing by easily going to ground from the merest of touches. This side of the game he must learn quickly to abandon, the English interpretation of contact is a bit more industrial than what players who ply their trade in Spain are used to. Similarly Januzaj has no excuse, his disturbing habit to dive in prime real estate on the pitch is both unacceptable and detrimental. However, what is more universal is that under no circumstances does a player ever grab a match official, and Di Maria booked himself a walk to the dressing room when he grabbed the Mr. Oliver's yellow shirt in protest.
United never looked to have a chance with 10 men and only one recognized striker (despite LVG’s protest of Fellani being a forward) on the pitch. The United resistance petered out, and Arsene Wegner had finally reversed his team’s fortunes at Old Trafford with a former United striker providing the necessary gun powder for the Gooners. Emotions aside, it is within reality to think that United can possibly hold on to a top 4 spot. It is yet to be seen how this defeat, or self-defeat, in the FA Cup tinkers with the teams mentality and resolve. It could have a negative effect, same as LVG’s half time substitutes which stunted United’s fluidity in the midfield.
If LVG does not take United to the promise land come the end of this season, it would be interesting to see if the board is willing to entrust the Dutch trainer with another sizeable war chest to continue the rebuilding process, or opt for another destabilizing change at the manager position.